In Aug. 5 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Somerset Community College's Russell Center was the scene of a "mock shooting" training exercise last Friday for local law enforcement, first responders and emergency personnel, according to H.M. Bottom, the county's emergency management director.
"I'm well pleased with how it went down," Bottom said of the exercise. "All of the agencies worked really well together and that was the main thing we were trying to accomplish was to see how we would react working together in the event something like this actually happened, this is what it would take."
Law enforcement from the Russell County Sheriff's office, the Russell Springs Police Department and the Jamestown Police Department along with Russell County EMS all helped take part in the coordinated event.
Acting as first responders, the various law enforcement officials entered the building and hunted down the suspected shooters. Clinton County EMS' Mark Thrasher attended the exercise and dressed the area with fake blood and organized the fake wounds on "victim" volunteers to make the event seem even more realistic.
After a short "shoot out" with simunition weapons that fired soap pellet shells as bullets, the first responders were able to overtake the "bad guys" and then EMS took to the areas to "treat" the wounded and send them to Russell County Hospital, so they too, could get in on the training.
Bottom worked closely with Kenneth Estep, the college's security supervisor, on coordinating the mock event, which Estep called a successful learning exercise.
"I thought it was very positive," Estep said. "We got a lot of good response, I thought we learned a lot and obviously we learned very much about what to do and what not to do."
He said he thought the first responders responded well to this type of training exercise, a first for many who participated.
"I think they had a good experience as well," he said. "H.M. had more to do with this than anybody, by far. As a college we provided the facilities, the victims and the shooters but he pretty much did the rest of everything.
H.M. had to coordinate everything else so this should be a feather in his cap."
This mock shooting was the fifth one Estep's coordinated in his three years as the college's security supervisor.
"Every one of these I do I cannot do without the help from the people in the county," he said. "I have yet to do it in a county where the people were not 100 percent willing to go, ready to go, and wanting to do it again once it was over."
He also said if he didn't get join help from Clinton County and other places, it would be impossible to put on mock shooting events like these.
"We got McCreary County represented, Clinton County represented and they are more than willing to help us out any time we do this," Estep said.
He said KCTCS systems office representatives and disaster coordinators, FEMA representatives and observers from several other Kentucky counties and community colleges witnessed the exercise.
"If the first responders come through here and flow through the building and don't do a single thing wrong we're doomed to fail," Estep said. "We wanted to treat this as real as possible, that's why we prepared, God forbid, as much as possible from getting people hurt."
First responders that participated in the event included Chief Joseph M. Irvin, Troy Young, and Chasity Shirley from the RSPD; Chief Derek Polston from the JPD, Deputies Clete McAninch, and Jason Warinner from the sheriff's department; as well as school resource officers Jerry Melton and Jackie Grider. "Bad guys" included McCreary County Sheriff Gus Skinner, Jerry Harrison from the Clinton County EMS and Andy Davis with Clinton County's 911 services.
Russell Springs Fire Department members also helped to block the entrances during the exercise.
No SCC students were used in the event but Estep said several faculty and staff experienced it firsthand. Even Russell Center Director Winfrey Bates was kind enough to be "wounded" and "treated" by EMS.